Rumi Prophecies

by Ibrahim Gamard (4/07)

As a result of the amazing popularity of Mawlânâ Rûmî's name in the West--and especially in America where translations and versions of his verses in English have made him the best-selling poet, after nearly 800 years--there has been an increased tendency to believe that the popularity of his name must have been prophecied.

This article reviews a number of versions of such prophecies in comparison to the earliest Persian sources in which prophecies were attributed to Mawlânâ. The conclusion is that, if Mawlânâ made any prophecies, none involved a prediction that his name would become famous. The strongest case is that he predicted that his words of deep spiritual meaning, insights, and secrets--and those words in his Masnavi, in particular--would become established in all nations and that these words of his would be recited in every clime, or region, of the world.

PROPHECY #1: In a book published in Turkey (translated into English) in the 1970's, the Director of the Mevlana Museum in Konya, Turkey, quoted Mawlânâ as saying about Konya: "Don't be afraid. This city will be saved from the sword until the Day of Judgment."

PROPHECY #2: The same Director quoted Mawlânâ as saying: "A time will come when my home will be in the centre of the city and it will flourish. Then wave upon wave of people will come to visit my Tomb..."

PROPHECY #3: The same Director quoted Mawlânâ as saying: "A time will come when.... wave upon wave of people will come to visit my Tomb and my words will be forever on their lips."

PROPHECY #4: In a book published in America, an author quoted the Persian mystical poet `Attâr as telling Mawlânâ when he was a little boy, "Someday your words will be heard around the world."

PROPHECY #5: In a published book, a contemporary Mevlevi leader quoted Mawlânâ as saying, "My name and my words will be told among the lovers, centuries after my death."

PROPHECY #6: In a publication, another contemporary Mevlevi leader was quoted as saying of Mawlânâ: "He says, 'I am the Sun. I will rise the West. And I will become a household word.' " The earliest Persian sources are (a) the works of Mawlânâ's son, Sultân Walad, a biography by Mawlânâ's disciple, Sepahsâlâr, and a biography by Mawlânâ's grandson's disciple, Aflâkî. It is the latter work (written between 1318-1360--45-87 years after Mawlânâ' s death) that attributes prophecies to Mawlânâ.

Prophecies About The Protection Of Konya

"Mowlânâ said: 'Bahâ' al-Dîn, as long as the blessed sepulchral shrine and the bones of the Great Master Bahâ al-Dîn-e Valad and our offspring and descendants and friends and disciples* remain in this city, this country (kheTTa) will not suffer the indignity (Hetta) of decline and the hoof of a foreign mount will not enter and the oppressor's sword will not be drawn against this people. Blood will not be shed and the city will not be entirely destroyed and devastated and it will not remain empty. The inhabitants of the city will always be secure and flourishing* in the sanctuary of the blessed sepulchral shrine,* and they will be safe and sound from Time's calamities and the vicissitudes of night and day--if God Most High is willing!'"
--Shams al-Dîn Ahmad-e Aflâkî, The Feats of the Knowers of God
(Manâqeb al-`ârefîn)," translated from the Persian by John O'Kane, Boston: Brill, 2002 p. 559
--from the Persian text of Aflaki, Chapter 7, section 15 (p. 801, of Tahsin Yazici's edition, 1961).
*"our... friends and disciples" [aHbâb wa aSHâb-é mâ]
*"secure and flourishing" [îman wa khurram]
*"the blessed sepulchral shrine" [torba-yé mubârak]

"Likewise, Mowlânâ would frequently say: 'After this give Konya the title "City of the Friends of God,"* for every born person who comes into existence in this city will be a Friend of God. And as long as the blessed body of Bahâ'-e Valad and his family line remain in this city, the sword will not be applied in this city and the enemy of the city will not succeed, but perish in the end. And Konya will be protected from the afflictions of the end of time. For even if some of the city falls into ruin, is obliterated and decreases, it will not be completely destroyed. Indeed, if it does fall into ruin, our treasure will still be buried there. As the poet* has said: 'Even if the Tatars destroyed the world through war,/ The ruins would contain your treasure. Why be sad?' In the end, spiritual people from the whole world will turn their faces in this direction and such joys will occur that the dead will yearn to rise, and our higher meanings and divine insights will take hold of the world.' And he also said: 'As long as there is a group who denies our family,* the people of this city will not find peace.'"*
Aflaki, trans. by O'Kane, p. 181
--Persian text of Aflaki, Chapter 3, section 171 (section 169, p. 261, of Yazici's edition) *"the City of the Friends of God" [madîna-yé awliyâ]
*the poet: means Mawlânâ, as quoted by Aflâkî
*"As long as there is a group who denies our family" [chandân-ke dar shahr-é qûniya az munkir-ân-é khânadân-é mâ qawmî bâsh- and]: more literally translated, "As long as there is a group of deniers of my family in the city of Konya"
*"the people of this city will not find peace" [mardom-é în shahr na-khwâh-ad âsûdan]

"Likewise, it is transmitted from the great among the virtuous disciples that in the time of Bâjû Khân the city of Konya was besieged by a huge army. The inhabitants of the city one and all had recourse to Mowlânâ. They beseeched him for help and appealed to him for assistance, saying: 'This is the time for mercy and affording protection.' Mowlânâ replied: 'Do not be afraid! God Most High has bestowed you upon Shaykh Salâh al-Dîn.* Up to the arrival of the final Hour and the hour of the Resurrection this city will not be subjected to the slaughter and the sword of the Mongols. Whoever attacks Konya will not escape the thrust of our blow. And as long as the blessed body of the Great Master [Bahâ'-e Valad]*--God glorify his memory--is buried here in the earth, this kingdom will be protected and preserved from all afflictions. Moreover, this city will enjoy great fame throughout the world, and our descendants will always be safe here--if God is willing!'"
--Aflaki, trans. by O'Kane, p. 503
--Persian text of Aflaki, Chapter 5, section 24
*Shaykh Salâh al-dîn: Mawlânâ's first "chief disciple" [khalîfa], who was assigned to train the disciples to become dervishes
*the Great Master: refers to Mawlânâ's father

Not surprisingly, there were legends that the spirit of Mawlânâ miraculously protected the city of Konya from the Mongols. Aflaki tells a story of how the Mongols first encircled Konya, whose inhabitants became hopeless and begged for Mawlânâ's help. He supposedly went out one of the gates of the city to the top of a nearby hill. The Mongols decided to attack him with arrows, but were miraculously unable to draw their bows. They mounted their horses, but the horses would not move forward. The inhabitants of Konya watched this and shouted, "God is Great!" The Mongol commander, Bâjû tried to use his bow and horse with the same result, and then he declared: "That man in truth belongs to the Yaratghân.* His anger must be avoided. In whatever city or province there is a man like this, those people will not be conquered by us." The Mongol commander spared the people of Konya (and other cities that submitted and offered large sums of money and other tribute) and ordered that the battlements (fortified walls) of Konya be torn down. When the people of Konya complained about this, Mawlânâ said: "Let them destroy the battlements because it is assured for Konya's people that the city of Konya will be guarded and protected by another tower and curtain, not by this tower and battlement of stone which can be destroyed by a small cause and devastated by the least earthquake."
--Translated by O'Kane, p. 180 from Chapter 3, sections 169-70 of Aflâkî's work
*Yaratghân: means "the gods."

Aflâkî tells a story of how, after Mawlânâ's death, the Mongol ruler of the Seljuk state in Anatolia, Keyghâtû Khân became angry over the killing of his ambassador and decided to kill all the inhabitants of Konya. He approached with a huge army. One night he had a dream in which Mawlânâ came and began to strangle him and warned him to back off. He was extremely frightened and was weeping and shaking. He declared: "This city and this clime belong to Mowlânâ, and whoever sets out to attack this region, no member of his lineage remains and he is destroyed."
--Translated by O'Kane, p. 230 from Chapter 3, section 257 of Aflâkî's work

In another place Aflâkî tells the same story differently: the Mongol ruler declared, "I also saw him in a dream last night. He was strangling me and saying: 'This city belongs to us!' Now, oh Akhî,* I have adopted you as my father and I have renounced the bad intention I had. I have resolved not to cause trouble to the people of Konya and not to inflict harm on them." --Translated by O'Kane, p. 420 from Chapter 3, section 601 of Aflâkî's work

*Akhî: means "brother" in Arabic. This speech was supposedly directed to Mawlânâ's son, Sultân Walad

PROPHECY #1: The following modern summary of this prophecy is clearly based on Aflâkî's stories:

"The people of Konya were greatly afraid. The Mongols had razed and burned every place they had passed through.... The elders of the city were in despair and appealed to Mevlâna for advice. Mevlâna replied, 'Don't be afraid. This city will be saved from the sword until the Day of Judgment. He who attempts to subject the city cannot be protected against our spiritual power. As long as the sacred body of Sultan '¸l-Ðlema is buried here this land will be protected.'.... Mevlâna was the spiritual support of Konya. Through him Konya was counted among the number of holy cities, and won honour throughout the east. On one occasion he said to his son Sultan Veled, 'As long as my holy Tomb, my fathers, ancestors, descendents, and those who love and befriend me remain in this city no enemy foot will tread upon this soil...'"
--"Mevlana and the Whirling Dervishes," by Mehmet Önder, Ankara: Güven Matbaasi, 1977, pp. 178-79. Translated into English

COMMENT:
Aflâkî's book is filled with miracle stories, of which few have any power to convince the modern reader. Obviously, Konya was not destroyed by the Mongols when they conquered the area during Mawlânâ's lifetime. Most likely this was because the city of Konya and others in the region surrendered to the Mongol army and paid them great sums of money, cattle, horses, and other tribute. A second cause may have been the Mongol's own superstitious fear of destroying a town in which a great holy man lived. The miracle stories about how Mawlânâ was able to prevent the Mongols from personally attacking him and of how, after his death, his spirit began to strangle the Mongol leader were clearly created in order to "prove" that Konya was indeed under his spiritual protection.

The inhabitants of Konya were not slaughtered by the Mongols, but the prediction that "the hoof of a foreign mount will not enter" did not come true, since Mongol troops did enter the city. The prediction that the city would not be "entirely destroyed" came true, since the Mongols destroyed the walls and battlements of the city only. Konya continued under Mongol rule (via Seljuk regents appointed by the Mongols) for years after Mawlânâ's death

Prophecies about "my tomb"

"There is also a true report that one day Mowlânâ said: 'They will rebuild our tomb seven times. The final time a rich Turk will come forth and build my tomb with alternating bricks of gold and pure silver, and around my tomb a very big city will grow up and our tomb* will remain in the middle of the city."*
--Aflaki, trans. by O'Kane, p. 281
--Persian text of Aflaki, Chapter 3, section 377 (section 348, p. 409, of Yazici's edition)
*"our tomb" [turba-yé mâ]: means "my tomb"

"Likewise, Mowlânâ would frequently say: 'After this give Konya the title "City of the Friends of God," for every born person who comes into existence in this city will be a Friend of God.... In the end, spiritual people from the whole world will turn their faces in this direction*...'"*
--Aflaki, trans. by O'Kane, p. 181
--Persian text of Aflaki, Chapter 3, section 171 (section 169, p. 261, of Yazici's edition)
*"spiritual people from the whole world will turn their faces in this direction" [az tamâmat-é `âlam mardom-é ma`nawî rôy ba-d-în- jânib âwarda]: may also be translated, "from the entire world, spiritual people will turn their faces (and mounts and will travel) toward this direction."

"...one day Mowlânâ said: 'Our companions will build our tomb high so that it will be visible from a great distance. Whoever sees our tomb from afar and has faith and puts trust in our Friendship with God,* God Most High will make him one of the number of the pardoned.* Especially if a person comes in perfect love, sincerity without hypocrisy, truth without metaphor, and certainty without doubt, and visits the tomb and performs prayers.* Moreover, every desire he has and asks for, God--He is sublime and exalted--will see that all his desires are fulfilled, that he attains his goals, and that he obtains his religious and his worldly quest.'"
--Aflaki, trans. by O'Kane, p. 281
--Persian text of Aflaki, Chapter 3, section 346 (section 347, p. 408, of Yazici's edition)
*our Friendship with God [walâyat-é mâ]
*the pardoned [marHûm-ân]
*and performs prayers [wa namâz gozâr-ad]

PROPHECY #2: The following is an interpretation clearly based on Aflâkî's accounts:

"On one occasion he said to his son Sultan Veled,.... 'A time will come when my home will be in the centre of the city and it will flourish. Then wave upon wave of people will come to visit my Tomb... ' These words are taken from an account of Mevlâna by Ahmed Eflâkî in his work . These words of Mevlâna's recorded by Eflâkî who died 600 years ago, are startling when one thinks of the Konya of today, so accurate was the prediction."
--"Mevlana and the Whirling Dervishes," by Mehmet Önder, Ankara: Güven Matbaasi, 1977, pp. 178-79,. Translated into English.

COMMENT: Mawlânâ's tomb has been, and remains to this day, in the center of Konya, where it is more accessible to visitation. And Konya has been flourishing. However, Aflâkî did not quote Mawlânâ as saying that great numbers would visit his tomb (in 1976 there were 400,000 Turkish visitors and 60,000 foreign ones; in 2004 there were 1,200,000 Turkish visitors and 200,000 foreign ones). Rather, the words quoted were: "In the end, spiritual people from the whole world" would travel in the direction of his tomb. It is true that people from all over the world do come to Konya to visit Mawlânâ's tomb. The tomb was not rebuilt seven times--nor was it built with bricks of gold and silver, an unlikely prophecy to be made by such an ascetic saint and mystic.

Regarding the second quote from Aflâkî ("Our companions will build our tomb high..."), Franklin Lewis commented: "Most likely this report is a later fabrication circulated to justify the disciples' actions and to encourage pilgrims to visit the shrine, especially because, as we have seen, other reports conveyed by Aflâki show Rumi opposed to receiving money from Tâj al-Din to expand the school." ("Rumi--Past and Present, East and West: The Life, Teachings and Poetry of Jalâl al-Din Rumi, 2003 revised edition, p. 427)

Prophecies about "my words"

"Likewise, Mowlânâ would frequently say: 'After this give Konya the title "City of the Friends of God," for every born person who comes into existence in this city will be a Friend of God.... In the end, spiritual people from the whole world will turn their faces in this direction and such joys will occur that the dead will yearn to rise, and our higher meanings and divine insights will take hold of the world.'"*
--Aflaki, trans. by O'Kane, p. 181
--Persian text of Aflaki, Chapter 3, section 171 (section 169, p. 261, of Yazici's edition)
*"and our higher meanings and divine insights will take hold of the world" [wa ma`ânî wa asrâr-é mâ `âlam-râ forô gir-ad]: may also be translated, "and our deep spiritual meanings and secrets will extend down and seize the world."

"There is also a true report that one day Mowlânâ said: 'They will rebuild our tomb seven times. The final time a rich Turk will come forth and build my tomb with alternating bricks of gold and pure silver, and around my tomb a very big city will grow up and our tomb will remain in the middle of the city. At that time our Mathnavî will take on the role of a shaykh.'"*
--Aflaki, trans. by O'Kane, p. 281
--Persian text of Aflaki, Chapter 3, section 347 (section 348, p. 409, of Yazici's edition)
*"At that time our Mathnavî will take on the role of a shaykh" [wa dar ân zamân maSnawî-yé mâ shaykhê kon-ad]: may also be translated, "And in that time our Masnavi will act (the part of) a sufi teacher [shaykh]"

"It is also transmitted that one day Shams al-Dîn, the son of Modarres, was asleep in his room and out of thoughtlessness and negligence he had placed The Mathnavî behind his back. Suddenly Mowlânâ came in and saw the book like that. He said: 'So these words of mine* came for this purpose, to fall into obscurity? By God, by God, from the place where the sun rises to the place where it sets,* this meaning will establish itself,* and it will go forth to the different climes* and there will be no gathering and assembly where these words are not recited*--to the point where it will be recited in temples and on stone benches,* and all the nations will be dressed in the robes of this speech and will have their share in it.'"*
--Aflaki, trans. by O'Kane, p. 299
--Persian text of Aflaki, Chapter 3, section 387 (section 388, p. 435, of Yazici's edition)
*"these words of mine" [în sokhan-é mâ]: literally, "these words of ours"; means, "my words"
*"from the place where the sun rises to the place where it sets [az ân jâ ke âftâb sar mê-zan-ad tâ ân-jâ ke forô mê-raw-ad]: lit., "from the place where the sun strikes (its) head (up) to the place where it goes down"
*"this meaning will establish itself" [în ma`nà khwâh-ad gereftan]: may also be translated, "The spiritual meaning (of the words of the Masnavi) will take hold and extend"
*"and it will go forth to the different climes" [wa dar eqlîm-hâ khwâh-ad raftan]: may also be translated, "and it will travel to (all) the climates [or regions] (of the world)"
*"and there will be no gathering and assembly where these words are not recited" [wa hîch maHfilê wa majma`'ê na-bâsh-ad ke în kalâm khwânda na-shaw-ad]: may also be translated, "And there will not be any meeting or gathering where these words will not be recited"
*"to the point where it will be recited in temples and on stone benches [tâ ba-jiddî ke dar ma`bad-hâ wa miSTab-hâ khwânda shaw-ad]: may also be translated, "to the extent that they will be read (out loud) in places of worship and on benches"
*"and all the nations will be dressed in the robes of this speech and will have their share in it" [wa jamî`-yé milal az ân sokhan Hulal pôsh-and wa ba-har dam-and shaw-and]: may also be translated, "And all religious communities will wear a garment (consisting) of those words continually."

A quatrain of Mawlânâ's has been quoted by some as a prophecy about his words: "Those sweet words* that we spoke to each other Are kept hidden in the heart of the domed sky. One day (that sky) will act as informer, like the rain, (And) our secrets* will grow up from (every) surface of the world."*
--Mawlânâ's Quatrain No. 1283 translated by Ibrahim Gamard and Ravan Farhadi (from "The Quatrains of Rumi," an unpublished manuscript)
*those sweet words: ân khwosh sokhan-ân
*our secrets: sirr-é mâ
*surface of the world: SaHn-é `âlam

PROPHECY #3: The following is an interpretation clearly based on Aflâkî's accounts: "On one occasion he said to his son Sultan Veled,.... A time will come when my home will be in the centre of the city and it will flourish. Then wave upon wave of people will come to visit my Tomb and my words will be forever on their lips.' These words are taken from an account of Mevlâna by Ahmed Eflâkî in his work . These words of Mevlâna's recorded by Eflâkî who died 600 years ago, are startling when one thinks of the Konya of today, so accurate was the prediction."
--"Mevlana and the Whirling Dervishes," by Mehmet Önder, Ankara: Güven Matbaasi, 1977, pp. 178-79. Translated into English.

COMMENT:
Onder's version of the prophecy portrays Mawlânâ's words as always on the lips of the waves of people that visit his tomb. His version concerning Mawlânâ's words is therefore narrowly focused on the marvel of so many visitors coming to Konya. His interpretation of Mawlânâ's words as being "always on the lips" of people is based on Aflâkî's accounts: (1) "spiritual people from the whole world will turn their faces in this direction... and our higher meanings and divine insights will take hold of the world"; (2) "All nations/religious communities will wear a garment (consisting) of those words continually"; (3) "there will be no gathering and assembly where these words are not recited" by people of "all the nations/religious communities" and in "every gathering and assembly"; (4) "our higher meanings and divine insights will take hold of the world..."


The legend that Mawlânâ met the great Persian sufi poet `Attâr is not mentioned by Aflâkî, who most certainly would have included it among the many marvels and miracles in his book if he had heard of it. This legend was not written until about 200 years after Mawlânâ's death, by `Abdu 'r-Rahmân Jâmî in a book completed in 1478 and also by Dawlatshâh-e Samarqandî in a book completed in 1487.

Franklin Lewis wrote: "Although `Attâr was still alive when (and if) the Valads came through Nayshâpur, modern scholars regard the purported meeting with suspicion. Rumi did hold `Attâr in high esteem, but he would have been quite young when passing through Nayshâpur and it is not entirely clear that Bahâ al-Din would have been predisposed to meet with a poet. Rumi himself makes no mention of such a meeting, though he does frequently refer to `Attâr. Since this pretty story does not appear in Sultan Valad, Sepahsâlâr, or Aflâki, we may conclude that it does not derive from the early Mevlevi community, which makes it quite unlikely that Rumi every mentioned this orally, either. The story may, instead, reflect a tradition told in Khorasan, since it is reported by both Jâmi of Herat and Dowlatshâh of Samarkand. Given the fact that it is reported two hundred years after Rumi's death, conforms to the archetypal imperative of Sufi hagiographies to link the transmission of spiritual (and poetic) insight from one generation to the next, we may dismiss this anecdote as unhistorical." (Lewis, pp. 262-63)

"They say that during the time when he and his family went to Mecca, he had the opportunity to meet the Master Farid al-Din 'Attar, and the Master gave to him the Book of Secrets. He kept it with him always." --"The Life of Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi" by Jâmî, translated from Persian by Carl Ernst, "The Teachings of Sufism," 1999, p. 173

"Dowlatshâh of course relates the story about Rumi's meeting with Farid al-Din `Attar in Nayshâpur, indicating that `Attâr came to meet Bahâ al-Din and gave young Rumi a copy of his work the Asrâr naame as a gift. `Attâr tells Bahâ al-Din that his son, Rumi, will soon set the heart of the world's mystics on fire."
--Franklin Lewis, "Rumi--Past and Present, East and West: The Life, Teachings and Poetry of Jalaal al-Din Rumi," 2003, p. 264

"Ferîdüdin Attar said to Mevlânâ's father: 'This son of yours shall very soon set fire in the suffering hearts of this world' and presented a copy of his work Esrarnâme (Book of Mysteries) to Mevlânâ."
--"Mevlânâ's Life, Works and the Mevlânâ Museum" by Erdogan Erol, 2005, p. 9 (with a reference to "Devletshah, "Devletshah Tezkiresi, p. 249)

PROPHECY #4: The following is based on Dawlatshâh's account:

"Some time in thirteenth century Persia, a famous poet meets a precocious boy not yet in his teens and recognized something brilliant. 'Someday your words will be heard around the world,' he says. The poet was Attar, the boy Jelaluddin Rumi, and 700 years later that prophecy is coming true. Already vastly popular in the Islamic world, Rumi is now America's most read poet. In these weird and wicked days, his words are building a bridge over one of the great divides of our time."
--"A New Illuminated Rumi: One Song," by Michael Green, 2005, p. 6

COMMENT:
Certainly, Mawlânâ's words have been heard around the world and have set fire to many hearts. However, this prophecy can have no claim to authenticity because it was created 200 years after Mawlânâ's death and is not in the earliest Persian sources.


PROPHECY #5: The following is an interpretation that appears to be based on Aflâkî's accounts:

"My name and my words will be told among the lovers, centuries after my death."

COMMENT:
It is certainly true that Mawlânâ's words have been told among lovers of God all these centuries after his death. However, there is no evidence that Mawlânâ predicted that his name would be famous, or that it would be famous "centuries" after his death. Rather, his emphasis is clearly on his words of deep spiritual meaning--particularly his Masnavi. The version that "my words will be told among the lovers" is based on Aflâkî's accounts: (1) "spiritual people from the whole world will turn their faces in this direction... and our higher meanings and divine insights will take hold of the world"; (2) "All nations/religious communities will wear a garment (consisting) of those words continually"; (3) "there will be no gathering and assembly where these words are not recited" by people of "all the nations/religious communities" and in "every gathering and assembly"; (4) "our higher meanings and divine insights will take hold of the world..."; (5) "And in that time our Masnavi will act (the part of) a sufi teacher [shaykh]."


PROPHECY #6: The following appears to be an interpretation with some very slight connection to Aflâkî's accounts: "He says, 'I am the Sun. I will rise the West. And I will become a household word.' "

This may be related to the claim of another Mevlevi leader (the father of the one who claimed that Mevlana said "I will rise in the West"), who said: "Mesnevi was written seven hundred and fifteen years ago, and at that time Mevlana prophecized that the world of Islam is going to forget him. But years, centuries later, the Western world will appreciate him and understand him better. And this came true today. Even in Africa, there are followers of Mevlana. Just as Gerald Ford is the President of the United States today, Mevlana is our President today." (Suleyman Hayati Loras Dede, Mevlevi Shaykh from Konya, Turkey, speaking in Los Angeles, California, 4/20/1976, audio recording [44:06 Turkish; 46:08 English translation], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-jPNmZZEmo).

COMMENT:
Here, the emphasis is not on the endurance of Mawlânâ's words, but on the fame of his name-- predicated as becoming famous in the West (America and Europe). There may be an echo of two of Aflâkî's accounts: "there will be no gathering and assembly where these words are not recited" by people of "all the nations/religious communities" and in "every gathering and assembly." However, Aflâkî's quotes refer to gatherings (presumably religious and spiritual gatherings and groups), not households. Mawlânâ was too ego-effacing to have proclaimed anything about his own name and fame, as he said in an authentic quatrain:

"My turban and gown, and (even) my head -- all three together -- Were valued at a penny, (or) something less. Have you not heard my name in the world? I am nobody, I am nobody, I am nobody." --Mawlânâ's Quatrain No. 1284 translated by Ibrahim Gamard and Ravan Farhadi (from "The Quatrains of Rumi," an unpublished manuscript)

The reference to the Sun rising in the West appears to mean a prediction about Mawlânâ Rûmî's current fame in the West. This may possibly be a distortion of Aflâkî's account: "So these words of mine came for this purpose, to fall into obscurity? By God, by God, from the place where the sun rises to the place where it sets, this meaning will establish itself, and it will go forth to the different climes."

Any references to the miracle of the sun rising in the West in an Islamic context can have only one meaning: the prophecy of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that one of the signs of the coming of the Day of Judgment will be when the sun rises in the West. Mawlânâ referred to one such saying [hadith] in the Masnavi, in which the rising of the sun in the West is the very last opportunity to repent to God:

"From the quarter of the West a door of repentance is open to mankind till the Resurrection.
Till the sun lifts up its head (rises) from the West, that door is open: do not avert thy face from it.
By the mercy (of God) Paradise hath eight doors: one of those eight is the door of repentance, O son.
All the others are sometimes open, sometimes shut; and never is the door of repentance but open."
--Masnavi IV: 2504-7, translated by R. A. Nicholson, 1930

SUMMARY If Mawlânâ Rûmî made any prophecies about the future, they concerned three topics: (1) the protection of Konya (which he ascribed to the presence of his father's tomb, not his own), (2) his own tomb, and (3) the endurance and dissemination of his words of deep spiritual meaning (not his own fame). In regard to the latter, he specified that he meant his work of six books that he called "Masnavî-yé Ma`navî" ("rhymed couplets of deep spiritual meaning"). And it has been primarily his Masnavi that has been famous for many centuries in Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the areas ruled by the Ottoman Empire.

There is no mention of any prophecies specifically about his Divan (or collected works of poetry). Yet it is primarily the latter that has led to Mawlânâ's present fame in the West--via selections and popularized translations and interpretive poetic versions of his ecstatic poems (the longer poems are called "ghazaliyât," the shorter poems are called "rubâ`iyât). These versions and popularized translations are usually not intended to be accurate translations of these poems. Some verses may be sufficiently faithful, others are distorted, others are skipped, and some verses may be fabricated (especially the final ones).

It seems that few people read Nicholson's highly accurate (but academic, British, and old fashioned-sounding) translation of the entire six books of the "Mathnawi" (1926-34) or Arberry's accurate translations of the main stories ("Tales From the Masnavi," 1961, and "More Tales From the Masnavi," 1963) are not read much by Americans. Whinfield's abridged translation and summaries of some of the stories ("Masnavi i Ma'navi: Teachings of Rumi," 1887) is read more because it is freely available on the Internet.

During more recent years, selections from Nicholson's translation have been rendered into contemporary American English by C. and K. Helminski ("Rumi: Daylight," 1994, "Jewels of Remembrance," 1996) with some success. But the most effective presentation of the Masnavi to the American public has been the poetic interpretive versions made by Coleman Barks. These are not translations (since the author does not read Persian and has no commitment to faithfulness to the literal translations made by others that he uses), but are popularized versions of Rumi's verses that vary in degree of faithfulness/distortion in comparison to the original Persian. Versionized selections from the Masnavi may be found in several of Barks' books (especially "The Essential Rumi," 1995, and "The Soul of Rumi," 2001).

Hopefully, there will be a more positive response to accurate translations from the Masnavi in contemporary American English, such as the rhymed translation of Book I by Jawid Mojaddedi ("Rumi: The Masnavi, Book One," 2004; his rhymed translation of Book II should be available soon). Another recent translation has been made by British scholar Alan Williams, in iambic pentameter ("Rumi: Spiritual Verses, The First Book of the Masnavi-ye Manavi," 2006).